Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On Glory Road

On Saturday, Sept 20, 16 of my riders, a guest rider and a parent of a rider rode the horses that we have trained on a 46 mile trail ride. My youngest rider was 10 and the oldest were near fifty. One of the Corollas, Swimmer was captured less than 30 days before the ride. Another, Trade Wind, was captured because of his debilitating lameness from founder and hoof abcesses. There were several stallions on the ride, a few geldings, and four mares. In addition to the Corollas, we also had our two Shacklefords in on the ride.

Most of us had been training our bodies and conditioning our horses all summer. The ride was a tremendous accomplishment for the little riders and several of the adult riders ranked it as one of the best days of their lives.

Rebecca will post some pictures of the day on this blog shortly. Keep an eye out in future editions of the Trail Rider Magazine for a story on the ride.

The current issue of Virginia Sportsman has a great article on the Corollas and our riding program. The magazine's web site list sites in various parts of the country where the magazine may be purchased.

The ride was several days ago and I am still tired, but I am very proud of my riders and our horses. The real point was the ability of the Banker horses. I do not suffer from an overdose of modesty and I think that it is important to keep in mind that, while our program is first rate, I am not a top tier trainer. I would give myself a good solid B in that regard. However, these horses allowed themselves to be tamed and trained principally by kids, rode safely and responsively whether stallion, mare or gelding, and demonstrated amazing endurance and trust worthiness.

They are worth every effort to prevent their extinction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This summer, I had the enormous satisfaction of watching Amanda and Steve work with Secotan in the round pen. Those sessions began in late June after her foal, Pomioc, was weaned. I loved those training Saturdays and long summer evenings. On August 16, Secotan made her first trip in the woods and by August 23 it was clear she and Amanda were going to be ready for the Big Ride. We all congratulated ourselves on another Corolla broken to saddle so quickly and easily.

Then came Swimmer. This wild mare was removed from the Outer Banks and brought to Mill Swamp Indian Horses on Monday, August 25 to receive a little education. Five days later, after several training sessions, Steve announced that Swimmer needed only one thing more to be ready for the Big Ride: a rider. Was I available? I was not. I had Mikhail to tend to, I was out of shape, and 46 miles was a whole lot of miles.

So a week later, I find myself trotting on Swimmer in the round pen. Four days after that, on Thursday, September 11, I’m riding Swimmer in the woods, on a lead rope, behind Steve on Croatoan. Rebecca is the first one to ride Swimmer independently in the woods. On September 14, six days before the Big Ride, Swimmer and I join the long Sunday ride. She needs more work, especially at the canter, but already she feels safe, consistent, and willing. That will be her last work-out before the Big Ride.

On September 20, three weeks and five days after arriving at Steve’s, Swimmer carried me for 46 miles over 12 hours. This extraordinarily patient and eager-to-please mare proved herself to be an excellent trail horse only three weeks and five days after leaving her life in the wild. She never spooked, never bucked, and responded more eagerly than many seasoned horses I’ve ridden. I am very, very proud of her.